Death is a common theme in works of short fiction. I worried, however, about placing too great an emphasis on it throughout And Ampersand.
That’s why this image—one of the sun low on the horizon, peeking through an open tent flap—is so meaningful to me.
The short story to which it belongs, “Thank You for the Fire,” is in some ways, yes, about death. But it’s also about uncertainty, about the hope instilled by a little light poking through at times of darkness and doubt.
Despite this, reactions to this story’s ending vary. Some hold out hope for the tale’s protagonist, while others are insistent matters could not have ended well for him. Others still, for their part, bask in the lack of certainty. For them, that light shining through, no matter what lies on the other side, is enough.
And this diversity of conclusion—that’s precisely what I’m after.
Because often, in real life, endings are muddied. Beginnings, too.
This is why I lean into the uncertainty, why I warm myself in its embrace.
Sometimes, we have no other choice. Sometimes, the best we can do is peer through that tent flap, searching for the sun.
And in that, I take refuge. The sun always rises, after all.
And Ampersand: Short Stories on Endings and Beginnings (of a Sort) is available April 12th, 2021.